Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wilco at Stubb's - Monday, May 12th

I may have said this before on this blog, but I believe that Wilco's current lineup is the best I've seen (I've now seen them six times since 1999) and that they may just be the best touring band out there. Unfortunately, this is only the second time of those six times that I've seen them play a full set headlining--having seen them open for R.E.M. on the Up Tour at Midway Stadium in 1999, and playing ACL three times. All that being said, I'd have to say this last time was the best.

If you haven't seen them with this lineup, you are completely missing out. Obviously, Glenn Kotche is an outstanding drummer, and Mikael Jorgenson and Pat Sansone are rock-solid on keys, but it's Nels Cline who takes this band to an entirely new level. I may be reaching a bit here, but I would have to say Nels Cline is the best guitarist I've ever seen. His solos on songs like "Impossible Germany" and "Side with the Seeds" are great on the album, but they're transcendent live. Every note he hits is so clean and crisp that you start to wonder if he's Jesus Christ reborn just to fucking destroy the guitar. And Jeff Tweedy (AKA Jeff Leppard) is still great. His banter is always extremely engaging, even if he tells the entire crowd that they're idiots and tells people who flew in from Ohio that they spent too much money to be so retarded at a show.

As for the songs, the aforementioned "Impossible Germany" plays great live. They busted out "Airline to Heaven", and if you weren't paying attention, you could have easily thought you were listening to the Allman Brothers Band in their prime. Their rock-epic "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" hearkens to Television, which plays well to the crowd regardless of what you think of Marquee Moon. "California Stars" and "Box Full of Letters" were great rollickers. In spite of Tweedy's admitted hesitancy to play "Kingpin", it has also stood the test of time. Most impressive after twelve years is still the coupling of "Red-Eyed and Blue" and "I Got You (At the End of the Century)"--which absolutely brings down the house--and closer "Monday" fucking kills everytime they play it.

All in all, I love seeing them pull from the entire catalog. The songs from A.M. and Being There are still great after more than ten years, and the songs on the newer records that best showcase Nels are fucking amazing to witness. If you can, see them soon and see them often.

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